One of the best skills you can ever develop as a human being is the fine art of acting vs reacting.
This is one of those things you learn more and more as you mature. If you’re willing to listen to life’s lessons sent your way. A professor in college used to urge us to act instead of reacting.
I’d just sit there thinking, “WHAT EXACTLY IS THAT SUPPOSED TO EVEN MEAN?”
Years later, I think I finally get it, and it’s a lesson well worth grasping.
Well, let’s talk about it, in plain English.
What Does it Mean to React?
Someone who reacts is someone who is always responding to what is going on around them.
On the outset, this may not seem to be a bad thing. In fact, many times we feel compelled to respond to those things important to us.
Reacting can be a good or a bad thing, but most of the time it’s bad.
Reacting can be bad when you are constantly responding to everything out there.
Instead of your core values guiding you, you allow everyone and everything yank your chain. You’re being trolled. Everything is rattling you except what is important to you.Reacting is bad when you are constantly responding w/o forethought (acting) Click To Tweet
Let me give you an example. Do you flip out over whatever social issue is going on around you? Are these things you flip out over anything you can do something about? Does your flipping out affect any positive change?
No? Then you are reacting, not acting.
You’re wasting energy and resources that you could use on something more productive. Knock it off.
Acting is Purposeful
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Acting vs. Reacting in Action
So, what does this look like in authentic life situations?
If I hear about some social or political issue is out of my control, I don't react. I don't waste my time and emotional energy freaking out. I may pray about it. If it's that awful, I write to my elected leaders.
But then I move on with what I already decided ahead of time to focus on. I reflect on my goals and personal mission statement.
If I hear about some humanitarian crisis going on that I might help with if I have the means to help, I do. This is part of being a blessing and an encouragement (two of my core values in my mission statement). Normally, my goal is to be a blessing and an encouragement to those that are closest to me in our geographic location and sphere of influence. I don't as a core principle, like to just throw cash at problems to ease my conscience.
So, I look for ways to be a blessing and an encouragement when people cross my path.
Being a Blessing Is about Acting Vs Reacting
Say I'm in line at the grocery store and there's a lady in line in front of me who doesn't have enough money for her groceries. She's trying to figure out if she should keep the diapers, or the formula, or the dog food...guess what? I'm not rich either, but I want to be a blessing. I want to be Christlike, so I have in the past and will continue to as God provides pay for her groceries. I will attempt to encourage her after we've been there, and God has graciously brought us through. And I will encourage her that when she comes out on the other end, go out and be a blessing to others too.
A few weeks ago hubby paid for a tank of gas for a single mom in need that he met at the gas station. She was in tears with a nearly empty tank and five dollars in her pocket. On the same day, I paid for the groceries of an elderly couple short at the store. I say that not to be a braggart, but to just remind us all God sends opportunities. But we may miss it if we're still distracted by some culture war issue we're still riled up about.
This kind of acting is so much more peaceful and productive to my heart. It's more helpful to the emotions of others. It's even better for the cause of Christ than reacting to nonsense.Freaking out about things outside of my control is a waste of my energy and life. Click To Tweet
Freaking out about things outside of my control is a waste of my energy and life.